News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Shelia M. Poole, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Sep. 18--Planet Hollywood International closed its restaurant on a high-profile corner of Peachtree Street, suggesting that downtown may still have a problem drawing Atlantans after dark.
When the restaurant opened to much hoopla in June 1995, executives had great expectations, said spokeswoman Amy Sadowsky.
"Despite our best attempts to build our business in downtown Atlanta, we just found that the traffic was not what we expected," she said. The restaurant, within a few minutes' walking distance from downtown hotels, offices and the Georgia World Congress Center, failed to build up dinner clientele.
The restaurant was popular with conventioneers, but in recent months attendance had fallen as businesses cut back on travel.
Planet Hollywood, at Peachtree Street and International Boulevard, was the second downtown restaurant to close this year.
In January, Atlanta businessman Rafih Benjelloun shut down the Fairlie-Poplar Cafe & Grill, which he also said lacked dinner crowds and was hurt by the perception that downtown is dangerous. That site was replaced by Icon, a restaurant opened by the owners of the Karma nightclub. Managers said the restaurant is doing well.
City boosters said Planet Hollywood's closing doesn't necessarily reflect negatively on the future of downtown to sustain businesses.
"It's always sad to see a restaurant close, but restaurants are known, whatever the location, to come and go," said Richard T. Reinhard, president of Central Atlanta Progress, a downtown revitalization organization. "What we would hope to see on that corner is a restaurant that appeals to three groups: conventioneers, people who work downtown and the more and more people who live and are going to be living downtown."
In fact, themed restaurants have been struggling for some time. Industry experts said Planet Hollywood and other chains suffered from complaints about food quality and getting repeat customers.
The Orlando-based chain, which used an extensive collection of movie memorabilia and celebrity tie-ins to bring in diners, filed for bankruptcy in 1999. Since then, the company has closed about 30 of its restaurants, leaving it with 50 worldwide.
Planet Hollywood's Sadowsky said there may be other closings but declined to say where. The company closed its Seattle restaurant last week.
"As part of our effort to reinvigorate our business, we're looking at making some difficult decisions," she said.
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(c) 2001, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.